Box Elder Peak P1K
Peak 10,626ft P300
Peak 10,057ft P300
Miller Hill P300

Wed, Aug 31, 2022
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profiles: 1 2


Box Elder is a P1K that lies between Mt. Timpanogos (P5K) and Twin Peaks (P3K) in the Wasatch Range east of Salt Lake City. It hadn't even been on my radar until the previous evening when I was in Heber City looking for something to do the next day. There were several trip reports that included a few bonus peaks south of Box Elder in a roughly 10mi loop that caught my attention. All three were located in the Lone Peak Wilderness, though my route would not take in the Wilderness HP. The outing would give me an opportunity to explore the American Fork north of Mt. Timpanogos, which I had climbed two weeks earlier.

Box Elder - Peak 10,626ft - Peak 10,057ft

Starting from the Deer Creek-Dry Creek TH near the Grante Flat CG east of the peaks, I followed a route nearly identical to one posted by Stav Basis in 2016. On that outing, Stav had done Box Elder and one of the bonus peaks, but had neglected the second. Hiking the 11mi route in a counter-clockwise fashion, I headed up the Deer Creek Trail starting around 7:30a. The well-maintained trail travels up through forest to start, with some views to Box Elder off to the left. The trail leaves the creek around the 7,500-foot level, breaking out of the forest, into the brushy slopes above, and eventually across talus near the top. The trail climbs nearly 3,000ft over the course of 3.5mi until it reaches a saddle and trail junction on the high ridgeline connecting Box Elder, now to the south, with the higher White Baldy to the north. The lesser trail fork I followed goes along the ridgeline to the southwest, then drops to the low saddle on the north side of Box Elder. An old coffee pot can be found nailed to a tree along the way. The good use trail continues all the way up to Box Elder and down the other side. The views along the ridge are quite fine, though a bit hazy today. There was a cairn on Box Elder's summit, but no register, nor on any of the other summits I visited today. I continued south over the summit to the saddle with Peak 10,626ft, finding the trail does not go up to the second summit. Instead, it turns west to descend the easier slopes on that side of the ridge, probably to connect with the Box Elder Trail about 600ft lower. No matter, the cross-country travel in these parts is not difficult, and an hour after leaving Box Elder, I was atop Peak 10,626ft.

The Box Elder Trail below on the west side eventually reaches to the saddle between Peak 10,626ft and Peak 10,057ft, before descending back down the north side. This would be my return route to the TH. I continued SE on the ridge descending from Peak 10,626ft, hoping to take it all the way to the saddle and the trail. There are some steep cliffs encountered around the 10,000-foot level, forcing me off the south side and down to the trail about a quarter mile before the saddle. At the saddle, I left the trail to pay a quick visit to Peak 10,057ft, taking about 10min to climb the 357ft of gain to the summit. Unlike the previous unforested peaks with open views, much of Peak 10,057ft is covered in trees. Still, there are good views looking east across the American Fork drainage and south to Mt. Timanogos. Figuring this was the least-visited of the three peaks, I left a register here, thinking it might last more than a few weeks or months. After returning back down the west side to the trail, I spent the next hour and a half completing the loop down the Box Elder Trail. It is a more scenic trail than the Deer Creek one, with nice views of the peaks, travel through aspen and conifer forests, past an old cabin and several trail junctions before returning to civilization. It was after 2p by the time I found my way to the Jeep, with plenty of daylight remaining.

Miller Hill

The previous outing wasn't quite enough, it seemed. I decided to drive further up the American Fork and explore the Mary Ellen Gulch 4x4 route. I had read online that it was described as an intermediate route, but it would prove about all that I could handle and then some. The road is rough and rocky, and the going is very slow. I was able to get to about the 9,000-foot level before a very tough section stopped me. The road was too rough to back down, so I executed an 11-pt turn that had me wondering if the Jeep might tip over in the process. I then returned to a more secure spot and parked the Jeep. I was less than half a mile from Miller Hill, so I decided to set out for the summit even though I was already pretty tired. It was probably a good thing I didn't check the elevation gain - almost 1,200ft - or I might not have bothered. The slope I climbed was quite steep, but not too brushy or loose. I watched another vehicle descend the sketchy section I had turned back on, then watched it descend past my Jeep. They probably thought I was weak for giving up, but I hardly cared. After climbing about 600ft, I came across an active OHV road rising steeply up to a saddle NW of Miller Hill. It was too narrow for the Jeep, but would work nicely for a Razor or motorcycle. I followed this up to the saddle where it ended, then found a use trail leading up to the summit another quarter mile away. It was about 80F when I started out, a bit too warm, but a light breeze helped some. The backside of the Snowbird Ski Area can be seen to the northwest in Mineral Basin. The American Fork descends steeply in the canyon to the north, while Mary Ellen Gulch descends equally steeply to the south. Miller Hill is surrounded by higher peaks on three sides, with far views to Heber City to the east.

On the way back, I continued northwest from the saddle I had ascended to, and was happy to find a good use trail descending to a lower, second saddle further to the northwest in the vicinity of the defunct Silver Bell Mine. I then found an old trail descending the south side of the saddle that would return me to the 4x4 Mary Ellen Gulch OHV road. It was After 5pm before I finished up back at the Jeep. It was still quite warm, but the sun would be setting behind the high crest within about 45min. I took a jug shower and made dinner, then settled in for a well-earned rest. I had plans to climb up to Twin Peaks and a collection of other summits in the Snowbird Ski Area.


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Box Elder Peak - Peak 10,626ft

This page last updated: Tue Nov 22 08:44:19 2022
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